Compared to nanoblading, microblading has a few differences. Both are worth investigating if you're hoping to enhance your brows.
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Beautician applying permanent make up nanoblading technique for eyebrows. She is shaping eyebrow to her client before treatment.
Credit: Getty Images

By now you've heard of microblading, a semi-permanent tattoo treatment that can render your eyebrow pencil obsolete for months at a time. Despite rumors that the skinny 90s brow is making a comeback, the treatment remains popular, due in large part to social media.

A similar semi-permanent eyebrow treatment has emerged as an alternative route for those who want perfected, low-maintenance brows: nanoblading. Nanoblading takes a similar approach, and while it's not as mainstream as microblading, it's starting to catch on. "Nanoblading is one of my top services now," says Krystal Cummings, cosmetic tattoo artist and owner of Browstress in Brooklyn, New York. If you're curious about the emerging treatment and how it stacks up to microblading, keep reading.

What Is Nanoblading?

"Nanoblading is a semi-permanent makeup technique that creates very fine, realistic hairlike strokes on the brows," says Cummings. As with any tattoo, the process involves depositing pigment into your skin. With nanoblading, providers can use either a handheld tool or a tattoo machine equipped with a nano cartridge, according to Cummings. Both can create those fine, hairlike strokes, and the machine additionally allows for soft shading, she says. Nanoblading results fade over time, and typically last one to two years, says Cummings. (Related: Brow Lamination Is the Secret to Perpetually Fluffy Brows)

Nanoblading Vs. Microblading

Nanoblading is extremely similar to microblading, so if you've already tried the latter, you should have a general idea of what to expect. The main difference is that nanoblading uses a finer needle, "which can create more of a natural look compared to microblading," says Cummings. Additionally, while microblading uses several tiny needles, nanoblading uses a single needle.

Nanoblading also tends to produce more lasting results compared to the six to 18 months that you can expect from microblading. This may sway your decision depending on your skin type. Those with oilier skin tend to have results that don't last as long compared to drier skin, with either treatment. "If a client has more of an oily skin type, I would refer them to nanoblading," notes Cummings. Often, those who have a drier skin type and opt for nanoblading find that their results last closer to two years, she says.

The finer needle means that nanoblading tends to produce less pain and/or bleeding and an overall more pleasant healing process compared to microblading, according to Cummings. "Microblading can produce scars if the artist is not really good," she says. "Nanoblading with a machine leaves less of a scar, even in the hands of a new artist."

What to Expect at a Nanoblading Appointment

Each nanoblading appointment begins with signing consent forms, followed by a chat with your cosmetic tattoo artist about what your goals are. The artist will then use a pencil to map out an outline of your future brows. "We'll draw on thousands of brows if we have to to find the perfect brow for them," says Cummings. They'll apply a numbing cream, wait about 30 minutes for it to kick in, and then begin the nanoblading process, she says. From start to finish, an appointment takes around two hours.

The immediate aftermath from nanoblading brows is similar to the microblading healing process. You'll experience flaking followed by a period that Cummings refers to as "ghost brows," when the color disappears as if you'd never had the treatment. It's not until three to four weeks after your appointment that the color returns and your brows are fully healed, she says.

Often, nanoblading artists will recommend a touch-up around the six- or 10-week mark, and will include that in the price. "They'll return and we'll go over whatever lightened up a little bit, kind of perfecting it," says Cummings. "And then they won't have to return for a year or two." Nanoblading costs vary considerably, ranging from $500 to almost $2000, depending on the location and artist's experience, says Cummings.

While it's a pricey endeavor, you want to choose your nanoblading artist based on factors other than price. First and foremost, it's important ensure that the person you're going to has a tattoo license to do permanent makeup, says Cummings. "After that you want to look at reviews, you want to look at their portfolio online," she says. "I would say just do tons of research to make sure that this is someone whose work you like." Choose wisely and you can wake up with your brows already "done" for months (or years) to come.